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3 Ways Catholics Pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

The Liturgical Year for Catholics begins with Advent in preparation for the Lord’s coming and ends in November with a focus on Christ the King, who conquered death and sin. It is therefore fitting that November is dedicated to the Holy Souls.


They are the faithful who died in God’s friendship and grace but are “still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven” (CCC 1030-1031). Here are four ways Catholics pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory:


  1. Offering Masses for Departed Souls is a Pious Tradition of Catholics


The Catechism of the Catholic Church states “From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic Sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God” (CCC 1032).


Departed souls are remembered in general during the Eucharistic Prayer at every Mass, and this is especially important since many non-Catholic Christians have rejected the doctrine of purgatory.


You may request a Mass to be said for a particular loved one through your parish office, or from any number of Catholic religious orders or missions. Gregorian Masses, in particular, are a custom of offering a series of  Masses on 30 consecutive days as soon as possible after a person’s death. Also consider offering Masses for holy souls who have no one to pray for them as an act of charity.


Saints Padre Pio and Faustina were, by the grace and mercy of God, visited by souls asking for a Mass offering to be freed from purgatory. The request to these saints in our time shows that this pious practice is still efficacious in assisting the Holy Souls.


  1. Catholics Can Pray the Special Holy Souls Rosary


After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the rosary is the most powerful prayer. There are two ways to use the rosary to help the Holy Souls. First, pray the rosary in the usual way. After the customary concluding prayer, the Hail Holy Queen, add this traditional prayer:


Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them

with your Saints forever more, because You are gracious.

May the divine assistance remain always with us. And may the souls of the

faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


The Holy Souls Rosary is a second way to pray. Although a quick online search will lead you to formats for the Holy Souls Rosary or All Souls Rosary, a book by Susan Tassone, The Rosary for the Holy Souls in Purgatory is a helpful resource.


Susan is a repeat guest on EWTN’s Women of Grace and EWTN Live programs. She has a particular devotion to the Holy Souls and several of her books, including the best – selling The Way of the Cross for the Holy Souls in Purgatory along with recorded programs can be found at EWTN’s Religious Catalogue.


Whether grieving the loss of a loved one or praying in charity for those known only to God, meditating on the Mysteries takes on new meaning when we offer prayers for departed souls.


  1. The Prayer of St. Gertrude Is a Quick Way Catholics Can Help the Holy Souls


Sometimes our good intentions are lost in busy seasons of life. If you want to incorporate the Holy Souls into your devotions but are short on time,  the Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great is one for you.


According to tradition, in the 13th century St. Gertrude, a German nun, mystic, and writer, was told by Jesus that every time she piously recited this prayer, 1000 souls would be released from purgatory. She recounted a vision in which Jesus showed her a vast number of souls entering heaven resulting from her faithful recitation of the following:


Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus,

in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls

in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in

my own home and within my family. Amen.


It should be noted that this prayer is not an officially indulgenced prayer and the Vatican does not endorse a particular number of souls (1000) being released. However, this short and lovely prayer can be easily memorized to call to mind the Holy Souls through our days.


You Can Find New Friendship in the Communion of Saints


A last point to remember is that we are all a part of the Communion of Saints. The Church Triumphant is enjoying heaven with God, and we are the Church Militant, still fighting the good fight on earth. When we raise our minds and hearts to consider the Church Suffering, those in purgatory, the community is complete.


Although the Holy Souls can no longer atone for their sins and rely on us to aid them, the Church teaches that they are able to pray for us. May you enjoy a new friendship with the Holy Souls!


To learn more about the Liturgical Year and the Church’s monthly devotions, tune in to The Station of the Cross via radio, our website, or our iCatholicRadio mobile app.


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